Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State was yesterday literally turned into a war front as soldiers clashed with protesting members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and a faction of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB), resulting in the death of eight people with over 30 injured.

 The pro-Biafra groups, who were protesting against the detention of IPOB leader and Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu had the previous day ordered markets, banks, schools and other business centres to close shop in solidarity.

They converged at the National High School, along Port Harcourt Road, Aba, from where they attempted to march and enforce the order, but were quickly dispersed by soldiers and policemen.
 The protesters later converged on Asa road and the main motor park area where they set up road blocks along Asa and St. Michael’s Road by Mosque and York Streets which obstructed traffic and this led to another confrontation with security agents.

Soldiers were said to have, during this encounter, fired live bullets  and in the process, a 20-year-old apprentice, Chidozie Okafor died on the spot  on St. Micheal’s Road, at about 1:00 pm.

Okafor, said to be the only son of his parents and a native of Omuohu, in Eziagu local government council of Enugu State, reportedly went to a nearby canteen on St. Michael’s road to eat and as he stepped out, was hit by one of the bullets. He died instantly.

Another person who was hit on the belly and was bleeding profusely on the same St. Michael’s Road was rushed to an undisclosed hospital where he reportedly died.

Elsewhere, the story was the same. On Azikiwe Road, two IPOB members were said to have been shot dead, the same with Ariaria where four persons were also killed. Although unconfirmed reports indicated that the death toll in Ariaria could be up to 40.

In the midst of the confusion, which ensued, shop owners, including banks, who had opened for business hurriedly closed shops while the roads became deserted. All the markets in the city were shut down.

It was also observed that security was beefed up at the Ariaria Police Division to ensure that the pro Biafra protesters did not burn the station, while soldiers were stationed at Milverton, Azikiwe/Asa and Port Harcourt by Ngwa Road junctions.  

Speaking on the development, MASSOB National Welfare Officer, (Uchenna Madu’s faction), Jude Chukwu, said the protest was peaceful until soldiers and policemen started shooting guns and tear gas. He added that over 30 members of the pro-Biafra protesters sustained bullet wounds and were being treated in various hospitals.  

Meanwhile, the Abia State Police Commissioner, Habila Joshack has said he was not aware of the death of any protester as he and his men were at the Ariaria Police Station at the time of contacting him to ensure IPOB members did not burn the station.

Joshack said he was not sure his men used live bullets to control the protest, noting that he told his men to manage the protests in such a way that lives and property are protected and not lost. He warned that protesters in Abia should know that there is a ban on public protests for now, hence, no one is allowed to threaten the lives of others or put them in fear during protests

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Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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